January 4, 1996 in Features

Clean Solution Pam Young And Peggy Jones, Self-Confessed Reformed Slobs, Share Their Slob Sisters’ Secrets

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:feature

In cities where The SLOB Sisters are seeking “the most organized person in the world,” each contest entry arrives on time, perfectly bound and documenting tales of alphabetized spices and color-coded pet supplies.

When the sisters are seeking slobs, the deadlines always have to be extended. Entries arrive late, scribbled on grocery bags, laced with horror stories (like that of the woman who nearly died of food poisoning after eating salad dressing that had been in her refrigerator for three years).

This month, Pam Young and Peggy Jones, authors of the national best-seller “Sidetracked Home Executives,” will be in Spokane, organizing yet another contest (see related story) and presenting a workshop at The Open Bible Church on Jan. 20.

Young and Jones, a pair of reformed slobs from Vancouver, Wash., are launching an all-out attack on disorder and clutter. It’s called Project CHAOS, which stands for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. Through their contests, they inspire slob makeovers all over the country.

Young, in a recent telephone interview from Vancouver, said she believes one out of every 10 people is genetically programed to be orderly.

“They’re very left-brained, not very right-brained,” she said. “Like our mother. For her, it just seemed effortless. The house always seemed immaculate. The meals were always on time. These people do the work of 10 people.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum are people like Young and Jones.

In 1977, the two sisters, with six children, two husbands and not a smidgen of order between them, were drowning in chaos. “We both just hit bottom,” Young said.

In desperation, Jones remembered an index card file system that had kept her organized as a newspaper advertising account executive.

The two sisters leaped on the idea. They designed an index-card system for housework, wrote a book and soon began traveling the country, appearing on television and in newspapers.

They promoted their system with humor, dubbing themselves The SLOB Sisters, which stands for Spontaneous, Light-hearted, Optimistic and Beloved.

Over the years, The SLOB Sisters have written more books, raised all six children and become grandmothers. They’ve appeared regularly on “Donahue,” “Oprah,” “Sally Jesse Raphael” and NBC’s “Today” show.

They’ve been using their card-file cleaning system ever since.

“We’re in nervous remission,” Young said. “We never have to clean for company anymore.”

In Spokane, Young and Jones will present a seminar designed for working women, whom they estimate still do about 97 percent of the housework. It will be based on their book, “I’m OK … But You Still Have A Lot Of Work To Do.”

The book describes the sisters’ travails in turning housework over to their husbands and children.

The book describes The Infraction Game, an all-family clutter-busting contest, and a special family version of the sisters’ index-card system.

It was after a particularly awful fight between Jones and her husband, Danny, that The Infraction

Game was born.

Jones was driving past an abandoned car on the freeway, which had been tagged for towing, when she hit on the idea.

A family tagging system could impound household clutter and fine the offenders.

Jones bought a package of fluorescent-colored dot stickers and taught her family these rules:

When family members spot clutter in the common areas of the house (everybody’s bedroom is off limits), they tag the clutter with a colored dot. That gives the offender one hour to put the clutter - cereal bowls, athletic socks, whatever - away.

If it’s still there after an hour, the item is impounded and a 25-cent fine is levied.

Infraction lists are posted on the refrigerator, and each week fines are tallied, collected and paid to the family member with the fewest fines.

Ironically, it turned out that Jones’ husband, Danny, embraced the game with testosterone-laced vigor. He’d been the one who had fought housework to begin with.

Neither sister could figure out what had gotten into him.

Finally, their agent, a man, explained the phenomenon.

Danny, as an American male, was out to win.

The game had stirred his competitive instincts. It wasn’t the money that mattered; it was winning.

Soon Danny was tagging his wife’s blond hairs in the sink and her visiting sister’s purse on the piano bench.

For Danny, following the rules of The Infraction Game was simply a matter of good sportsmanship.

Young and Jones will describe the finer points of The Infraction Game during their seminar in Spokane, as well as present their family index-card cleaning system and explain how they motivate kids to help.

They’ll also announce the winner of the Spokane version of their Project CHAOS contest.

And they may even give a sneak preview of their latest book, “The Phony Gourmet.”

For this one, The SLOB Sisters devised sneaky recipes that look more impressive than they really are.

One of Young’s favorites: Mousse in a Minute. She melts a Symphony candy bar and folds it into two cups of whipping cream.

For one dinner party, she layered Gerber’s Dutch Apple Dessert into Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry shells and spooned Mousse in a Minute on top.

When her guests got down to the Gerber’s layer, they oohed and ahhed.

“How did you get it so fine?” they asked. “Is it a French cream?”

Young merely smiled.

“Oh, it’s just a process,” she said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Stall illustration by Molly Quinn

MEMO: The SLOB Sisters seminar will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at The First Church of the Open Bible, 8303 N. Division. Cost is $15, which includes a sack lunch and a copy of the book, “I’m OK … But You Have A Lot Of Work To Do.” For more information, call the church at 467-5134.

This sidebar appeared with the story: Project CHAOS contest Are you really eligible? Is your house a mess? Do you chronically suffer from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Send us pictures and describe in 100 words or less the disorganization in your house. You must be committed to doing a makeover of one of the messiest rooms of your house. The winner’s makeover will be featured in an upcoming story, complete with before and after photos. What will you win? The winner will attend The SLOB Sisters’ seminar on Jan. 20 for free. The winner will also receive the sisters’ do-it-yourself kit, “Organize From The Inside Out,” which includes a video, three audio cassette tapes, a workbook, and a card-file system, and free follow-up telephone consultation with The SLOB Sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones. Want to give it a shot? Send your entries to Project CHAOS, IN Life, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. The entries must be postmarked by Jan. 10.

The SLOB Sisters seminar will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at The First Church of the Open Bible, 8303 N. Division. Cost is $15, which includes a sack lunch and a copy of the book, “I’m OK … But You Have A Lot Of Work To Do.” For more information, call the church at 467-5134.

This sidebar appeared with the story: Project CHAOS contest Are you really eligible? Is your house a mess? Do you chronically suffer from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Send us pictures and describe in 100 words or less the disorganization in your house. You must be committed to doing a makeover of one of the messiest rooms of your house. The winner’s makeover will be featured in an upcoming story, complete with before and after photos. What will you win? The winner will attend The SLOB Sisters’ seminar on Jan. 20 for free. The winner will also receive the sisters’ do-it-yourself kit, “Organize From The Inside Out,” which includes a video, three audio cassette tapes, a workbook, and a card-file system, and free follow-up telephone consultation with The SLOB Sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones. Want to give it a shot? Send your entries to Project CHAOS, IN Life, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. The entries must be postmarked by Jan. 10.

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